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Musings: fundraising or raising funds?

Posted by Mark L. Vincent on Apr 9, 2010 11:27:00 AM

Our organizational development firm, Design Group International, lives at the intersection where businesses, non-profits and religious organizations find common ground. The beautiful thing about an intersection is one can then see what is held in common, as well as point of origin and destination–however different they may be.

One area of difference is the raising of funds.

In business it is often preferable for a financier to take a percentage of money raised, and it can feel off-putting for someone to ask for a stipend to raise money. If the financier gets a stipend, their income goes away just as soon as they succeed. If they have to earn their money, however, it is commonly believed they are much more likely to raise it.

In religious organizations, and in many non-profits, it is preferable for a person to be paid a fee to raise money, and it can feel off-putting for someone to ask for a percentage of the money raised. It is believed that if the fundraiser receives a percentage of money raised, their motive will no longer be the mission of the organization, but greed. If, however, they receive a stipend, then the expense to do so can come out of the operations of the organizations and not necessarily the pool of new money being raised.

Some non-profits go either way, theorizing that whatever works to raise money can be done–no matter how much expense goes against raising it.

Interestingly, the hope in each scenario is that those who raise funds will act ethically. Notably, one can act in unethical, greedy ways no matter how the funding scenario is constructed.

It is good to think through the philosophy of how your organizations raises funds for its purpose. But more importantly for the raising of support, it is wise to employ persons in the role whose passion is for your organization’s purpose and not just how or how much they will be paid.

-mark l vincent

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Topics: organizational development consulting, organizational mission, organizational purpose, religious organizations, stewardship, stewardism, Mark L. Vincent, Design Group International, Whorled Viewz, Fundraising, steward leadership

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